The demon in the Driver makes Hiromi take pause before jumping in to help Ikki. Daiji arrives during that hesitation and finishes off the Giftarian. Ikki and Vice try to separate Olteca from his demon, but it doesn’t work and Olteca is able to retreat.
George and Director Akaishi are excited to see the Demons Driver is about to awaken thanks to the pulsing from the Gifu wood block.
Daiji updates Ikki and Sakura on Tatsuhiko’s improving condition. But they are more concerned about Hiromi’s current condition. Daiji and Ikki leave to see him.
Hiromi is in the locker room as the demon within the Driver makes itself known. Hiromi cannot believe George would knowingly let him use such a thing.
Daiji and Ikki arrive, but Hiromi lets them believe he is perfectly fine. Daiji asks to take Demons Driver for safekeeping until Hiromi fully recovers. But Hiromi reminds him that he will put his life on the line to keep fighting.
Vice senses some demonic aura in the locker room.
In a dark parking garage, Chigusa expresses her appreciation for Olteca opening her eyes to their true enemy and asks what his ultimate goal is.
Olteca says ever since he was a little boy, his intelligence far exceeded that of the adults around him and no one ever tried to understand him. That is until the mysterious hooded man who created the Deadmans approached him and introduced him to the wonders of Gifu-sama. The man promised Gifu-sama’s powers transcend reason and would lead humanity to its next stage of evolution.
Olteca says his true objective is to evolve and transcend humanity’s foolishness. Chigusa is amazed and fully on board. She pledges to sever ties to her past, including her previous friendship with Hiromi and Tatsuhiko all for a better, less-foolish future for humanity.
Meanwhile, Aguilera is upset that Juliamaki has been blabbing to Sakura about her situation. Juliamaki says he just wanted to help her, but Aguilera chokes him, shoves him to the floor and says the only thing that matters to her is Gifu-sama so he should mind his own business.
Juliamaki asks what Gifu-sama even is and Aguilera happily explains that Gifu-sama is a thing that will bring a joyous evolution for humanity.
Juliamaki approaches Sakura who immediately agrees to help Aguilera.
Over at the Fenix medical offices, Ikki speaks with Doctor Akemi who tells him about Hiromi having an 80-year-old like body that is unfit to fight as a Kamen Rider. One more henshin and he could die.
Hiromi confronts George about the Demons Driver. George does not hesitate to confirm that he did use Hiromi as his lab rat with the Demons Driver. He adds that Hiromi should have no problem since he repeatedly states he would put his life on the line to protect the world.
Hiromi asks what George’s goal is and he replies that he just wants to make the ultimate Kamen Rider.
Out in the hallway, Hiromi tries to wrap his head around the situation. Commander Wakabayashi’s words to him about true heroes repeat in his head.
Ikki finds Hiromi and says that although Doctor Akemi told him about Hiromi’s condition, he believes Hiromi should continue fighting if that is his dream. For his part, Ikki says he will also put his life on the line to protect Hiromi.
Hiromi appreciates Ikki’s words.
Back home, the siblings come together to hash out what they know. Sakura tells them about Juliamaki’s request and says while she might not trust him, she believes he is sincere about helping Aguilera, at least.
Ikki reiterates that their priority is to defeat Olteca and retake the Gifu Samp.
Next morning, Hiromi calls and meets up with Chigusa and Olteca. Hiromi tries one last time to get Chigusa to reconsider her allegiance. But she tells him that she can no longer trust Fenix and does not understand why Hiromi would continue to do so even after finding out they’ve been using him.
Hiromi says it’s better than being a demon’s lapdog and he is resolved to continue fighting as a Kamen Rider. Chigusa realizes Hiromi is still in the dark regarding the truth about Fenix. Recalling having overheard George and Director Akaishi, she wishes she could still believe in the same ideals as Hiromi.
Suddenly, Olteca stamps Chigusa. Hiromi is beside himself as Chigusa screams before she completely turns into a Giftarian. Hiromi quickly henshins and battles it.
Daiji is with George monitoring the situation and he calls Ikki to tell him Hiromi has henshined. Ikki, who is with Sakura, Aguilera and Juliamaki, hurry over.
Olteca summons some Juniors before he also henshins. Ikki and Sakura arrive and tell Hiromi they will leave the Giftarian to him.
Ikki, Vice and Sakura henshin. Vice announces they will be using all their Stamps and power ups collected so far this season as they bombard the Juniors before turning their attention to Olteca.
Olteca is about to leave, but Aguilera and Juliamaki stop him. Aguilera henshins and battles Olteca as Ikki and Vice go Barid Rex to help out. Aguilera is able to knock the Gifu Stamp out of Olteca’s possession. Juliamaki picks it up and he and Aguilera leave.
Meanwhile, Hiromi delivers a finishing blow to the Giftarian with the hope that Chigusa’s soul can rest in peace.
Ikki and Vice go Volcano. Hiromi grabs hold of Olteca and tees him up for the two. Hiromi tells Ikki to just kick all the way through to him. Ikki and Vice confirm that they know what the plan is. They leap into the air and deliver the kick that pierces through Olteca, but merely knocks the Demons Driver off of Hiromi. Hiromi collapses.
Olteca dehenshins and his demon contract shatters. At the same time, the remnants seem to feed into the Gifu wood. Vice appears to be in extreme pain for a moment.
Daiji and other Fenix officers arrive to take Olteca into custody. Olteca smiles.
Ikki runs over to Hiromi who is surprised he is still alive. Ikki reminds him that he promised to protect his life as well. Vice says it was Doctor Akemi’s idea to knock the Driver off Hiromi before the demon ate the rest of his life.
Hiromi and Ikki fist bump.
Later, Hiromi and Tatsuhiko lay flowers at the memorials of Commander Wakabayashi and Chigusa.
Back home, Mama Igarashi serves Vice his first plate of curry upon Ikki’s request. The family, however, are horrified when Vice removes what looks likee a mask over his mouth so he can eat.
Hiromi calls Ikki and Daiji out to tell them the Demons Driver is, well… a demon. Vice knew he sensed one in the locker room.
Revice needs to be a bit more stingy with the foregoing of opening credits because whenever they do that, I’m absolutely going to raise my expectations. I’ll be bracing myself for a main character death or major heel turn. So when we get neither, I’ll be left underwhelmed when I probably wouldn’t feel that way if they just went ahead and played “liveDevil,” you know? lol
I mean, I absolutely don’t want Hiromi or Olteca to get offed yet (if ever). And as much as I wanted Chigusa to stick around, she’s just a guest character. (Olteca-Chigusa power couple hopes dashed. Thanks a lot Olteca! lol)
But this was a good episode nonetheless.
I do think half the episode was henshined battle with that mid-winter showcase extravaganza Vice made sure we paid attention to. lol (Gotta sell those Stamps!)
For this episode’s character moments, we saw Hiromi at his most Hiromi. He is a noble hero and he will always put his life on the line. And we love him for that. (I’m not even going to think about what the preview was implying regarding him. Won’t even consider the possibility! lol) But from a plot standpoint, he was merely used as another example of the shady and potentially evil things happening behind the scenes at Fenix.
Chigusa having overheard the truth also adds to that part of the story. And whatever it was she heard must have been so horrible that it would drive her to completely switch sides like that. It’s not like she had a hooded figure manipulating her or anything. Only Olteca. But we don’t really know how they first connected.
(Really though, they would’ve been an awesome badass villain couple, you know? Especially compared to whatever Aguilera and Julio are doing with Sakura being a side piece. lol)
We got a tease (at least, I hope it’s a tease) of Olteca’s past. I definitely want more that just that passive exposition. It actually seems very interesting. And honestly, I actually favor Olteca as a character more since he has a legit goal based on his own convictions while former child bride Aguilera worships a slab of wood. And JulioTamaki apparently has no idea what’s even going on and is just enamored with his red queen.
The way Aguilera so confidently sang the praises of her beloved Gifu-sama was kinda cringe. It came across as her being in denial or something. And her and Juliamaki seemingly returning to their Gifu-worshipping ways feels like a step back for them. Though I certainly would rather that than them continuing to sulk in Toei’s back warehouses of course.
Back to the quick Olteca flashback, I noticed that it seems demons like perms. Before Olteca signed the contract, he had straight hair. But now it’s all wavy. Same thing happened to Daiji. He got a perm when Kagerou took over. And I just realized, Vice seems to have wavy hair as well. Hmm…
*turns and points at George’s hair* Aha!
No but anyway, it was just amusing to notice.
Elsewhere, why spoil the Ushijima’s secret lair in the preview? Come on now! Whatever is going on there, I’m kinda sad at the potential left on the table with building up Sakura and Hikaru’s friendship before the big reveal. They should’ve done more with it aside from the two random visits to the Ushijima home. Especially when the show did more to merely suggest the family was sketchy. It’s a missed opportunity for a truly shocking reveal. (And obviously, putting it in the preview doesn’t help lol) But we’ll see what that’s all about next week.
Overall, another good episode. To compare with the other credits-less episode, this one was probably a bit more deserving of that treatment. But still a bit underwhelming, relatively speaking.